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Do it Yourself...
Learning the Basics

Do It Yourself in Milwaukee and surrounding suburbs. 

If you are the 'get it done' type that can climb a ladder, read a tape measure, use a screw gun and finish a project, this page is for you.

However, if you aren't sure of yourself on a ladder, you can't accurately read a tape measure, or you don't have a screw gun or drill, this is probably not a good task for you.

Note: This page is intended to be a 'guide' for you to use in measuring your windows. The only way to be sure you are getting the measurements right, and because there are so many products and so many options available, is by having a knowledgeable sales consultant come to your home with samples. A trained window covering designer is up on all the available options, they know what not to do as well as what you should do and they know how to measure for each situation.

Measuring A Window

First, determine what kind of window covering you will install. If you are doing shutters, pick out the shutter frame before measuring (see Measuring for Shutters at the bottom of this page).

Determine if the window covering will be an inside mount or an outside mount. If the window frame is deep enough, in other words the depth of the frame from the inside wall out to the window is more than an inch, you may want to do an inside mount. 

Inside Mount vs Outside Mount

Inside mount is usually the preferred mount. For one thing they insulate the window better.

To do an inside mount you must make sure there is room at the top of the window frame to put mounting brackets so the first thing to do is determine the depth of the window frame.

If the window frame depth is not deep enough to attach mounting brackets at the top then measure for an outside mount.

An inside mount requires a more precise measurement than an outside mount so we'll start with inside mounts.

Measuring for Inside Mount

    1. Measure the window opening in three places horizontally (the bottom, the middle and the top), write down the narrowest width rounded down to the nearest 1/8".
    2. Measure twice vertically. For shutters and vertical blinds, write down the shortest height (for everything else, write down the tallest height).
    3. Step back from the window and look at the window framing. Does it appear to be straight, are there any obstructions (cranks or levers) that may block the operation of the window covering?

Wood, Faux wood, Honeycombs, Romans, Screen shades: Measure the height and write down the tallest measurement and add 1/4". Write down the narrowest width rounded down to the nearest 1/8".

Honeycomb Cell Shades, Roman shades, Screen shades and Pleated shades: Measure the height and write down the tallest measurement and add 1". Most fabrics will shrink over time so adding 1" to the length is a good idea (to make sure the bottom rail sits flat on the window sill). Write down the narrowest width rounded down to the nearest 1/8".

Verticals: Measure the height and write down the shortest measurement rounded down to the nearest 1/8". Write down the width at the top of the window rounded down to the nearest 1/8"

Measuring for Outside Mount (See diagram above)

    1. Step back and look at the window. Notice the bottom of the window frame. Is there a sill plate? If so, you want to measure the width of the window sill plate. That will be your width measurement (you can go narrower than the sill plate but rarely will I go wider than the sill plate).
    2. If there is no window sill plate then measure the width of the window opening and add at least 2" to the total width measurement.
    3. Measure the height and add 2" to the top of the window frame. If there is no window sill plate on the bottom add 2" to the bottom also.

So if the window has no window sill plate (the diagram at the top of this page has a window sill plate) and the window width is 35" and the height is 40" the blind should be ordered as a 37X44.

A trained designer will spot things that most people may miss. And, a designer can make suggestions that you may or may not think of (like when to do top down/bottom up and when not to).

So if at all possible get a designer to help you get your window coverings done. 

Measuring for Shutters

There are several frames available for shutters. The best way to make sure that you are getting the best frame for your windows is to have a professional do the measuring and show you the possible choices. However; if you are interested in doing your own ordering and mounting then do an outside mount frame (not a Z-Frame or any other inside mount). Step back and look at the window, make sure there are no obstructions in the window (cranks or levers) that will get in the way of opening and closing the louvers), look around the window making sure there are no obstructions that will get in the way of the frame, and then follow these rules:

    1. If the window has no window sill plate then simply measure the narrowest width and the shortest height and order those dimensions as the window size dimensions. This frame will be ordered as a four sided frame because the frame goes all the way around the window opening.
    2. With a window sill plate measure the width of the window sill plate and write that measurement down. This will be the frame to frame width measurement.
    3. Measure the height of the window opening in two places. Write down the shortest height measurement from the top of the window sill plate to the top of the window. Add the thickness of the frame you picked out and order this frame as a three sided frame because the frame goes up both sides and across the top = 3 sided.

I can't overemphasize the value of using a trained window covering professional, in the case where you choose shutters.